2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Review

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I DID IT!!! I’m officially Dopey!

After running the Walt Disney World Marathon last year, I vowed never to run another Marathon again. Fast forward a few months and I’d signed myself up for the Dopey Challenge which consists of running a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a Half Marathon on Saturday, and a full Marathon on Sunday.

Below is a video recap of the weekend as well as some general information about the sign up process, race expo, and each race.


 

 

 Basic Race information:

Sign up Process

  • Race sign up was April 21, 2014 for AP and DVC members and April 28, 2014 for the General public.
  • link to sign up for the races could be found on the runDisney website
  • Cost
    • Dopey = $530 – $590
    • Goofy= $360 -$400
    • Marathon= $170 – $200
    • Half Marathon= $170 – $200
    • 10K = $105 – $130
    • 5K= $60 – $70
    • Kids races= $15 – $20

Race Expo

  • Three locations, the HP Field House, Jostens Center, and Champions Stadium were used for the race expo.
  • Packet & bib pick up was in the HP Field House.
  • Shirt pickup for the Goofy and Dopey Challenges was in the HP Field House.
  • Shirt pick up for the 5K, 10K, Half, and Full was in the Jostens Center.

New Balance Shoes

  • Located in the front as you walked down the stairs.
  • Two new styles
    • Mickey = Black with white trim Steamboat Willie theme
    • Minnie = Grey with some black and white trim
    • Both retro themed
  • 2014 shoes were still available
  • The only way to get a spot to buy the shoes is through NBvirtualqueue.com.
  • Runners could sign up in the virtual queue using their bib numbers starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, January 7th and Friday, January 9th. Everyone else could sign up at 6 a.m. on Thursday and Saturday.
  • After you signed-up, you got a text or e-mail confirming your group letter and when you needed to return to the expo.  You then got another notification when it was your time to go back to the expo for your appointment.
  • Cost $185

 

5K

  • Close to 9,000 runners
  • Weather was in the mid 30’s with high winds.
  • The gathering area
    • Lines weren’t long and the food truck accepted Magic Bands.
    • Tables were available but most were empty due to the cold weather.
    • Normal bag check was available starting at 5:00 AM
    • Food and drinks were also available via food truck
  •  The start
    •  5K starts at 6:15, a little later than the 10K and Half which start at 5:30
      • Walk to the corrals was only 5 mins.
      • There were  6 Corrals A – F.
      • Each corral had their own fireworks
      • National Anthem was done by a trumpet solo. I don’t know how that guy got his lips to move that fast in the cold weather!
  •  The race
    • The first mile takes place in the Epcot parking lot and around a side back stage road where you hit mile marker 1 behind test track.
    •  Mile two was my favorite part of the race because it was all in the park around world showcase.
    • You enter the park via an access road between Mexico and Norway.
    • Mile Marker 2 is near international gateway where you go behind stage a little while and then reenter World Showcase between UK and Canada
    • After world showcase you head left into future world toward spaceship earth and then bear right past Spaceship Earth and out a service entrance  into the Epcot parking lot where the finish line is.
  • Water Stops

    • 2 = first one as you enter world showcase and the second just before mile two in the backstage area
  • Character Recap

    • Mile 1 “Atta” from a Bugs Life.
    • Norway “Daisy” in Norway outfit
    • Italy had Pinocchio
    • Japan had Chip and Dale in Japanese Hoppi robe. This would have been my favorite stop but the line was just too long.
    • Paris had “Marie” from Aristocats
  • Pros & Cons

    • Food truck at the beginning was nice.
      • Hot beverages
    • Race start corrals were close to the staging area
    • Character lines didn’t seem to long with the exception of Chip and Dale
    • Mile two of the course was great!
    • Mile 1 was in the parking lot. Would have liked more on the boardwalk maybe?
    • Lines for the buses after the race were terrible. They were trying to get buses in as soon as possible but it was still a long wait.

10K

  • 11,000 finishers
  • Weather was in the 40’s and the wind had died down.
  • The gathering area
    • Same as the 5K
    • Normal bag check was available starting at 4:15 AM

 

  • The start

    • 10K started at 5:30
    • The corrals were in the Explore lot in Epcot (Same as 5K). Walk to the corrals was same as the 5K
    • 6 Corrals A – F. Same as the 5K 
  • The race

    • Course was very similar to last year
    • The first three miles take you from the parking lot. Instead of right you go left onto Epcot center drive towards the Epcot parking toll plaza.
    • Anna and Elsa were waving from an overpass and there was snope falling from the sky
    • Once you go through the toll plaza you make a SHARP left turn back to Epcot center drive
    • A little over a mile into the race you take the exit ramp to overpass road and at mile 2.5 you pick up the 5K course.
    • I was prepared for this part of the course to be a bit boring so I wasn’t really disappointed.
    • Maelstrom demolition was happening between Norway and China
    • Water station #2 was in from of China
    • Mile #4 was in front of the Japan pavillion
    • You exit Epcot through international gateway on to the boardwalk where the spectator support was great!
    • Water station #3 was by Jelly rolls
    • After running the boardwalk you go backstage and then enter Epcot again behind Journey into Imagination. 
  • Water Stops

    • 3 = first one just before the mile two marker second as you enter world showcase and the third one was out on the boardwalk area.
  • Character Recap

    • Lilo and Stitch – Epcot Center Drive
    • Chip & Dale in baseball uniforms
    • Mickey in a football uniform -ESPN Club
    • Genie
    • Dopey – Finish
  • Pros & Cons

    • Race start corrals were close to the staging area
    • Crowd support on the boardwalk was great.
    • Busses seemed to be working smoother than the 5K
    • Mile 1 – 3 were not in the parks
    • Would liked to have seen more characters on the course.

 

Half Marathon

  • Weather was in the 50’s with little wind.
  • For those driving, the only way to enter the Epcot parking lot was to take World Drive to Epcot Center Drive. 
  • The gathering area

    • Same as the 5K & 10K
    • Normal bag check was available starting at 2:30 AM

The start

    • Half Marathon started at 5:30
    • The corrals were along Epcot drive facing west.
    • Walk to the corrals was about 15 – 20 mins
    • 16 Corrals A – P.
    • Corrals were being strictly monitored. The entry into the corral was very small and two people were checking bibs while a third Track Shack member was waiting in the background making sure no one snuck in..

 The race

    • The first four miles miles take you down Epcot Center Drive and turn right on World Drive
    • At Mile 4 you run through the TTC which is a good stop for a normal bathroom if not too crowded.
    • Mile 5 is in front of the Contemporary.
    • You enter the Magic Kingdom via a service entrance next to Tony’s Town Square Tavern.
    • Main Street was crowded with plenty of spectator support.
    • Running through the Castle was impossible due to the crowds.
    • You exit the Magic Kingdom at mile 6 where it dumps you on to Floridian way.
    • From there it’s a long run back to Epcot where you run around Spaceship Earth and back into the parking lot for the finish. 
  • Water Stops

    • 9 total (Almost one every mile)
  • Character Recap

    • Pirates of the Caribbean – Captain Jack and Barbossa
    • Buzz Lightyear
    • Queen of Hearts
    • Anna and Elsa on top of the Castle
    • Country Bears (One)
    • Bert & Mary Poppins and Penguins
    • Golfing Goofy
    • Genie & Abu
    • Sarge 
  • Pros & Cons

    • 9 Character stops.
    • Crowd support was great.
    • Only one or maybe two of the 13.1 miles is spent in a park.

 

Marathon

  • Weather was in the 60’s but just slightly chilly with no sun. 
  • The gathering area

    • Same as the 5K & 10K
    • Normal bag check was available starting at 2:30 AM
  • The start

    • Marathon started at 5:30
    • The corrals were the same as the Half Marathon along Epcot drive facing west.
    • 16 Corrals A – P.
    • That day we were old that people caught arguing over coral placement would be subject to disqualification!
  • The race

    • The first 8 miles of the course is the same as the half marathon.
    • Main Street was actually not crowded. We were able to run the entire length of it however, we had to walk through the castle again due to the crowds.
    • At mile 8 you go into the Speedway via a long steep ramp where you run around the base of the track.
    • From the Speedway you head to Animal Kingdom where, if you have the time, you can ride Expedition Everest.
    • Around mile 17 you enter ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for a nice three mile run through the facility. Most people don’t like this part of the course but I don’t mind it at all.
    • At Mile 23 you head into Disney’s Hollywood Studios and say goodbye to the sweeper bus.
    • Mile 25 finds you running through Epcot and the World Showcase where you run through the same finish line as the other races.
  • Water Stops

    • 19
  • Character Recap

    • Pirates of the Caribbean – Captain Jack and Barbossa
    • The White Rabbit
    • Ulf the Mime (Tangled)
    • Louie (Alligator from princess and the frog)
    • Train & Engineer (Picture lying on the train tracks)
    • Bert & Mary Poppins and Penguins – Mile 6
    • Golfing Donald and Goofy (Magnolia Golf Course)
    • groomsman by the Gf Wedding pavillion
    • Disney Villains (Cruella, Jafar, Queen of Hearts, Melificent, Scar)
    • Little John, Friar Tuck, and Robin Hood
    • The Country Bears
    • Jiminy Cricket
    • Mickey in Safari gear (Animal Kingdom)
    • Grave Diggers
    • Fineas and Ferb
    • Baseball Chip & Dale (WWoS)
    • Big Hero 6 Inflatable
    • Sarge
    • Mike & Sully
    • Mr. & Mrs. Incredible
    • Belle
    • Jasmin
    • Mulan & Mushu
    • Duffy
    • Baseball Mickey (Finish Line) 

Pros & Cons

  • 25 Character stops
  • Crowd support was great!
  • There is a lot to see on this course so it easy to mentally break the race up into different zones. (MK, GF and Poly, Speedway, AK, WWoS, DHS, Epcot)
  • Course is very narrow in areas.
  • I don’t like that the put Dopey runners in the back corrals.

 

 

2014 Year in Review

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Well we’re over half way into the month of January so I guess it’s time to begin blogging in 2015. It’s been an extremely busy month so far and I’ve already completed four races this year. I’ll be recapping the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in an upcoming blog post but let me tell you that it was incredible.

2014 seems to be a bit of a blur but I did have a few race goals at the beginning of the year. I’m glad to say that I was able to accomplish some of them, but others I need to continue to work on this year. Let’s take a look at some of my goals for 2014 and how I did:

  1. “More running and less walking.”

I still need to work on this one. I’d like to say that I was worried about my health, and to some extent I was, but I think it really boils down to my comfort level. I’m not comfortable running long periods of time without walk breaks. I would really like that to change this year.

  1. “Establish a new PR. I’m going to run multiple 5k’s, 10K’s, and Half Marathons.”

No go on this one. Not even close! In most instances my times were slower and I never even ran a 10K. I almost PR’s the Brooksie Half this year but I was still a couple of minutes off.

  1. “Run at least 6 Half Marathons. I love the Half Marathon distance and I would like to run six of them this year.”

This one I hit out of the park. My total Half Marathon count for the year was 10 and I’m really proud of that!

  1. “Sign up and train for the Dopey challenge in 2015. My marathon experience this year was incredible and I want to push myself further this year by training for Dopey.”

This one was also a success. I signed up, and although my training wasn’t the best, I still managed to conquer 48.6 miles during Marathon weekend this year. I’m so proud of that fact and still can’t believe I did it.

  1. “Avoid the PT! I really like my Physical Therapist but I never want to visit his office again!!”

This one was also a success! I managed the entire year without a major injury. I had a few minor flair ups that cost me some training days but nothing major and I’m feeling great now.

 Race Statistics

As you might guess, 2014 was heavily focused on the Half Marathon Distance. I started the year in Disney World running my first Marathon, in early April I ran the Big House 5K, and in November I ran the Detroit Turkey Trot. My stats were pretty simple:

1 Marathon

2 5K

10 Half Marathons

Most of My races were held in Michigan but I did manage to travel to Washington DC to run the Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon, Ohio for the US Air Force Half Marathon, and California where I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon in August as well as the Avengers Half Marathon in November. I love running the Disney races but they are getting to be expensive so, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I’m not sure how many more I’ll be running this year.

Overall, 2014 was a pretty good year. I logged some miles but I really didn’t do as well as I would have liked. Toward the end of the year it was getting very difficult to motivate myself to run. Hopefully I won’t have that problem again this year as I think I’m going to focus less on distance and more on speed.

What are your running goals this year? Let me know in the comment section below.

Some 2015 decisions have been made!

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In my last blog post I was trying to figure out what I should try and focus on next year in regards to running goals. At that time I hadn’t signed up for any races and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I still don’t know exactly how the year is going to play out but I have decided on some things to focus on:

  1. I’m going to take a break from runDisney races. I love to run them but they are getting expensive and a bit repetitive. I’ll be there for January Marathon weekend but I’m not sure if I’ll be doing any others. I always enjoy myself but I’m finding that the actual race takes a back seat to the meet ups with running friends.
  2. I’m probably going to reduce the number of races I run. I enjoy a good solo run but I’d like to run more with friends and family next year. That means that I’ll be spending more on entry fees but can offset that with reducing the number of races I run.
  3. I want to find a long distance bike race/ride to try for the first time. I think this will be a fun way to change my training up a bit.
  4. 2015 will be the year of the volunteer. I want to try and volunteer for a lot of events next year. I really enjoy the feeling you get as a volunteer and didn’t do it enough this year.

I’m actually getting excited for next year. I haven’t decided if I’ll go for a full marathon in the fall but I still have some time to decide and there is no pressure.

Have you made any decisions on your 2015 schedule yet? Let me know in the comments below.

Decisions, Decisions….HELP!!!

Help

I have a confession to make. I haven’t signed up for a single race next year because I’m completely stumped. This year was the year of the half marathon for me. In two weeks I will have completed ten half marathons during the year. I’m also in the middle of training for the Dopey Challenge in January. This is an awesome accomplishment and I’m super proud of myself but I know that I am no more fit, or healthy, then I was this time last year when I was getting ready to run half number four. In fact I’m probably a lot worse. I eat more sugar and have little to no energy. I know the sugar intake is a big part of the energy loss and I’m on “the road to recovery” but I need to get back in the groove. Luckily I haven’t gained weight yet but if I keep going down my current path it’s inevitable. I’ve had trouble keeping weight off my entire life but things are different now. The past couple of years have thought me to understand my body and recognize the changes I go through. I know, without a doubt, that I’m eating poorly and I can feel exactly what it’s doing to me. I also know that running has given me the strength and determination to nip this trend in the bud. I look at pictures of “Fat Kyle” and I know in my heart that he is gone forever. I might have ups and downs but I WILL NEVER BE THAT WAY AGAIN!

All of this leads to my current predicament. I honeslty don’t know what to focus on next year. I am waffling between two options so I thought I would write my pros and cons for each and then get some input from the running community.

  1. Go for MM status by completing 3 marathons in 3 months.

Pro: This would be an incredible accomplishment and being a double agent with the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs would be awesome! I would start with Detroit, try and get into Chicago or MCM, and then finish it up during Marathon weekend in Jan 2016. Running either Chicago or MCM would be a dream come true for me and would solidify, at least in my mind, my status as a runner.

Con:  It would force me to focus on the long run and take up a ton of time for training. In order to avoid injury I would need to take it very slow and, to be honest, I’m tired of running slowly and worrying about my knee.

  1. Focus on increasing my overall health by eating better, losing body fat, gaining muscle and targeting shorter distance races. I would still run a couple of Half Marathons but only for fun. My training would focus more on breaking the 30 minute 5K barrier and/or the 1hr 10K barrier.

Pro: Focusing on my health, strength, and short distance speed might allow me to lose weight and perform better if I give MM qualification another try in 2016. I recently read a great article by Lauren Fleshmen called “10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome”. I’ll let you read the entire article for yourself but the part that really caught my eye was: 

  1. Fitness

“Shorter interval work is more effective than long-distance runs for weight management and gaining fitness. Interval training won’t set you up to run a great marathon, but it will make you a baller at the 5-K, an event that requires strength, speed, power, and endurance combined. By making the 5-K your focus, your training plan will actually line up with what’s best for your overall health. “

Con: I would feel like I’m taking a step back. Most of my races last year were 5K and 10K with a few halfs thrown in towards the end of the year when my long run endurance got better. I worked hard to get to the point that I can run a Half Marathon whenever I feel like it with little or no consequences after the race. I’m worried that I might lose some of that if I no longer focus on the long distances.

I also think that there is a mental thing with me where, for some reason, the 5K feels like a training ground that I have already passed. I know that this is totally on me and is my issue alone. There are many very respectable reasons to run a 5K and many people, like Lauren, that don’t even run the longer races, not because they can’t, but because they choose not to.

So here is where I need your help dear reader. If you were in my position, what would you do? I am really interested to hear your thoughts so please comment below or send me a tweet @tigertowntales

Five Tips for Running the Detroit Marathon Weekend Races

medal shot

 

This past weekend marked the third time I’ve run a race during the Detroit Marathon weekend. My first race was the 5K back in 2012. Last year I upgraded to the Half Marathon where I went on to hurt myself and earn a ticket to the PT for the fall running season.

This year I was determined to have a different outcome. I was going to pace my wife for this race and since it had been a while (April of this year) since she ran a half we were going to take it easy and enjoy the race. I’m happy to say we accomplished that mission!

Finishers

Instead of doing a normal race report I thought I’d change it up a bit and tell you 5 things I learned from running this race.

 

  1. Arrive early and Park for Free- The race begins at 7AM and traffic is a bear. M-10 closes at I-75 and most of the city streets close the race route shut down before 5AM. We set our alarm for 4:00 and were out the door by 4:30. Instead of trying to park close the race course we parked on Washington Blvd close to Grand Circus Park. It’s probably ¾ of a mile to walk to the start line but since they don’t check meters on Sundays we were able to park on the street for free.

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  1. Do not park inside of the race course – My first year I arrived early and thought I was being smart by parking close to the starting line. I was able to get a spot before the roads closed however, when I finished the race, I couldn’t leave until the roads reopened again.  If you look at a map of the race course, it loops around itself forming a circle. If you park inside of that circle you aren’t getting out for a while. I ended up walking around the after party and sitting in my car for a couple of hours after my first race had finished.

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  1. Bring some warm yet disposable clothing- All three years that I have run this race have been really cold at the start. Yesterday’s starting line temp was 33 degrees and since we started downtown close to the river it felt even colder than that. Before the race started I had gone to the Salvation Army and purchased a sweatshirt from their dollar pile. As you can see from the picture below, it wasn’t pretty but it did the job. I also had the standard $1 running gloves that I tucked into my shorts pocket once I started to warm up. I didn’t throw them away because I had learned from last year that going through the tunnel is hot and stinky but once you exit you get hit with a cold blast of air. I was glad I had the gloves because my fingers were cold again by mile 9.

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  1. Be prepared for some hills – When most people think of a race course through the city of Detroit, they think it will be a flat and fast course. This course is actually a bit deceiving as it has quite a bit of elevation change (817 ft). The run over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada is beautiful, but it’s also challenging. The course leading up to the bridge has an incline to it with an uneven road surface. The entrance road is curved and has a pretty good bank to it making running uncomfortable to say the least. Add in the fact the you’re only at mile two, and probably still cold from the early morning fall start time, and your legs might be aching a bit. Once you get on the bridge, the road is narrow and the climb is much more challenging than you might think. It’s nothing to be scared of but don’t take it lightly either. Train for the elevation and you’ll be fine.

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  1. Be prepared to see some amazing communities that you never knew existed – During this race you’ll get to see the Detroit River from the Canadian side and run along Riverside Drive. There is a great community here and the race support is awesome. The college students come out in force to cheer and other residents barrage you with greetings of “Welcome to Canada”. Once you come back into the city you get to run through a very nice part of Mexican village and smell the food being prepared for lunch at the local Mexican restaurants. This was one of two times during the race that my mouth was watering and I was ready to give up and go eat. The other was when we ran past American & Lafayette Coney Island Restaurants. One of the last Neighborhoods you get to see before the finish line is Cork town. I never realized how nice this area is with beautiful restored homes lining the streets. You can tell the locals really take pride in home ownership.

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The Detroit International Half Marathon is one of my favorite races and hopefully, will be a staple of my running career for a long time to come. The course is challenging but wonderful and takes you through places you might never visit any other time. The medal is one of the best you can get, and running through two countries, and the world’s only underwater mile, make this a race to put on your calendar for sure!

 

Have you ever run this race and if so what did you think?

Would you recommend it to others?

 

Let me know in the comment section below.